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Cole writes: "Social media is being scathing about the diction chosen by the New York Times, CNN and even the Guardian to speak of the some 55 peacefully protesting Palestinians whom Israeli snipers cold-bloodedly shot dead on Monday."

Palestinians protesting in Gaza. (photo: Ma'an News Agency)
Palestinians protesting in Gaza. (photo: Ma'an News Agency)

Can Palestinians Be Killed? Can Israelis Kill Them? Or Do They Only "Die"?

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment

15 May 18


ocial media is being scathing about the diction chosen by the New York Times, CNN and even the Guardian to speak of the some 55 peacefully protesting Palestinians whom Israeli snipers cold-bloodedly shot dead on Monday and the some 2700 whom they wounded, half of those with live fire. The headlines or lead paragraphs spoke of Palestinians “dying,” as though they had mysteriously and unexpectedly contracted the unusual disease of bullet penetration. (The NYT cleaned up its act on Tuesday in the wake of the criticisms; people do what they think they can get away with; but this isn’t a new problem with its word manipulations when it comes to Israel).

I just heard CNN International, which is usually more adult than the American version, say that “clashes” resulted in “deaths,” “many of them” caused by Israeli fire. So there were no clashes. All the Palestinians died on their side of the Israeli prison fence. No Israelis were injured. And all of the injuries were caused by Israeli fire, whether live or rubber bullets (they can be lethal) or drones dropping teargas cannisters. “Many of them” were children or journalists.

Why is it so hard to admit that the Israeli army, and Israeli squatter settlers, routinely kill Palestinians? (If you follow daily news from the West Bank, there is a low intensity conflict there with serious incidents every day.) The current neofascist Israeli government even has adopted a doctrine that Palestinians may be killed at will even when they pose no danger to anyone, if they aren’t doing what Israelis tell them to do.

It is because the West categorizes Palestinians as dinosaurs, not mammals. They are the last colonial subjects, not citizens. They have no state. There is no contemporary category for them. They are unique. People compare them to West Saharans or Kurds but they are not actually like them. Kurds and Saharans have passports and citizenship in a state. They are subnationalists who want a different citizenship and a different passport, one that does not yet exist. That aspiration is different entirely from being stateless. Palestinians cannot easily travel. They only have a laissez-passer and receiving governments are afraid they will stay. They are all inmates. They often cannot own property, as in Lebanon, or their property is insecure, under constant threat of Israeli expropriation or destruction. Their lives are made of silly putty.

Palestine is the last colony, a relic of the early twentieth century when Britain bestrode the globe as an imperial behemoth, ruling India, Malaya, Nigeria– colonies that went on to become independent countries and among the more important countries in the world. Not so the British Mandate of Palestine.

Colonial subjects were always invisible to the metropolitan press. They were supposed to be like Victorian children, seen but not heard, and were to produce profits for imperial Capital. When it reported on an investigation into the infamous Jallianwalla Bagh massacre in Amritsar of 1919 by order of Col. Reginald Dyer, The Aberdeen Journal entitled its article “Amritsar Riot.” It was a protest and not a riot, and what was remarkable about it was not the disturbance caused by the colonial subjects but the British massacre of them. Crowds had gathered to protest the exile of two nationalist leaders. Dyer had forbidden public rallies or protests, just as the Israeli army has forbidden Palestinians to protest near the prison fence at Gaza. It is not clear that the Indians had heard about the prohibition, but even if they had, they were not going to be deterred from rallying. Dyer had them shot down by live fire, for ten minutes straight, killing according to the British 379 and wounding 1200 (Indian historians have arrived at much higher figures).

Just as the Scottish press focused attention not on the British soldiers who committed the massacre but on the colonial subjects who acted out and “rioted,” so today’s European and American press sees the Palestinians of Gaza as engaged in “clashes” even though they must be shadow boxing, since they have not laid a hand on anyone.

British imperial policy thought nothing of moving people around if they were inconvenient. When the British conquered Iraq away from the Ottoman Empire in the course of WW I, they immediately started dreaming of settling it with millions of Panjabis. They felt they had too many Panjabis in British India and did not understand demography very well, and so wanted to deal with the problem by massive population displacement. If you think Iraq has challenges in finding a national narrative to accommodate Shiites, Sunni Arabs, Christians, Kurds and Turkmen, imagine if it also had millions of Sikhs, Hindus and Panjabi Muslims. As it turned out, the British found it impossible to rule Iraq except by bombing the bejesus out of it daily, to the point where the Royal Air Force officers who mounted these aerial campaigns against villagers who wouldn’t give up their arms worried that the British public would find out about these unsavory proceedings. Britain gave up and granted Iraq partial independence in 1932, though they continued to meddle there until 1958. “Bomber Harris” of Iraq fame went on to plan out the Dresden firebombing during WW II.

When slavery ended, the nineteenth-century British had needed agricultural labor in tropical climates where malaria and yellow fever made it impossible for most Europeans to survive, they tricked large numbers of Bengali and Oudh peasant workers into signing indentured labor contracts for a nearby island in the Bay of Bengal. Imagine the peasants’ surprise to find themselves in Fiji in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, or in Trinidad or Guyana in the New World, from which most of them found it difficult ever to return. The British bequeathed Fiji a long term problem of ethnic division such that politics is now a fight between Polynesian Fijians and South Asians. I hope the plantation profits were good for London.

The tragedy in Palestine involves complex moving parts. Instead of insisting on Ashkenazi Jews’ rightful place in post-war Europe, especially in Germany and Poland (yes, I am breaking Polish law), the Europeans, including Britain, were happy to dump the Holocaust survivors in the Levant, where they could be turned into compradors against rising Afro-Asian nationalisms. Mauled by Central European virulent racist nationalism, some Jews replied with Betar, Likud and other Jewish supremacist organizations modeled on the mass politics of the interwar period and accepting many of its premises about racial hierarchies and the desirability of belligerency. The British colonial authorities abruptly withdrew, allowing the Jews they had brought to Palestine for imperial purposes to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians. 70% of the Palestinian families in Gaza are refugees from what is now southern Israel, trapped in the Gaza Strip and denuded of property, dignity and prospects.

That is why Palestinians in Gaza are rallying at the fence and insisting that the world will not be allowed to forget two million stateless persons trapped and under blockade in an Israeli concentration camp.

And that is why the neo-imperial powers, who find this clamor of colonial subjects distasteful, erase them from the story, having them “die” or “be killed” in the passive mood.

Whenever you read of someone killed in the passive mood, you may be assured that a cover-up is being conducted by the murderers and their accomplices. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+63 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-05-15 16:03
"It is because the West categorizes Palestinians as dinosaurs, not mammals."

Even Cole does not say it as bluntly as it really is. Israeli Zionists simply do not consider Palestinians humans. They don't believe that these people have human rights. This deeply racist belief has been repeated over and over by Zionist leaders from the very start of Israel. Moshe Dyan once commented that Palestiains would live like dogs, and if they don't like it they can leave.

The overal strategy of Israel has always been to make life so intolerable and so impossible that all Palestinians will just leave their ancestral homeland. Then the settlers from Europe can have all the land.

Back in 60s it was common for Israelis to refer to Palestinians as "our Indian problem." They sought the same solution to the problem of indigenous peoples as the US did -- confine them to "reservations," deny them any citizenship, healthcare, education, etc. And just let them die off. It was always a policy of genocide.

We should call things what they are. Israeli policies for Palestinians are genocide. We should always say that openly and clearly. Zionists don't ever intend that Palestinians will live in their ancestral homeland. They will all leave or they will die. In this action, Zionists have copied the worst of European and American malignancies, as Cole points out above.

It is time for the world to unite and put a stop to Israeli genocide, as the treaty demands.
+18 # elizabethblock 2018-05-16 06:32
I never thought I would click on the + for Rodion Raskolnikov!

"Our Indian problem" - someone I know was working in Palestine, I think in Ramallah, in the 1980s. She was visited by an Israeli official who told her he was going to America to tour the Indian reservations, so he could see how they do it.

The Nazis tried, first, "vertreibung," expulsion. When that didn't get rid of all the Jews they resorted to "vernichtung," extermination. The Israelis aren't there quite yet. I was there two years ago, and a woman from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions said she didn't use the word "genocide" to describe what was going on. She was waiting for when it actually starts.

And when you treat people the way the Israeli Jews treat the Palestinians, over years and decades, you have to come to believe they are less than human. Otherwise you can't live with yourself.
+10 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-05-17 07:32
Today, Trump is calling "illegal immigrants" animals. He says they are not human. He is right in there with Netahyahoo.

Human beings are human no matter what their circumstances. Even prisoners convicted of terrible crimes have human rights. The claim that some people are "less than human" is a way of stealing from them. It says more about the person like Trump or Netanyahoo who uses the term. It shows that they have no human consciousness or morality.
+11 # Citizen Mike 2018-05-15 21:59
"The only good Indian is a dead Indian." The Israelis are just like us and their history is a reflection of ours, so of course we have an affinity with each other. We all like guns, too.
-36 # Salburger 2018-05-16 02:33
Yes they were killed . But they were not peaceful unarmed demonstrators- they were part of an armed mob trying to invade Israel with the explicit intent of their instigators and some of the participants to kill Jews once they crossed the border. No government would allow that to happen and none would refrain from using live ammunition to stop it after tear gas and rubber bullets failed to stop it. This is all bull
+16 # tomwalker8 2018-05-16 08:53
Armed? Armed with what? Surely an armed mob would have inflicted casualties on the forces attacked. No such Israeli casualties have been sustained.

The ancestral inhabitants of Palestine are trying to invade Israel? From what Palestinian state do these marauders come?
+8 # maindrains 2018-05-16 10:02
Ok, so this was an "armed mob".. I didnt see any arms on the TV shots, what do you call arms; slingshots? The border is not just a little wobbly fence but a high wire fence and within 30 yards a tall wall. The Israeli snipers are situated between the two, those who were shot were still on their side of the fence. Despite "no government would allow an invasion, also no other government is allowed to treat another population as Israel does the Palestinians. As to "defending their border" Israel has no border.. it slowly creeps in here and there, a settlement in one place a wall in another like a creeping plague.No other government thinks thats ok.
-29 # neal2k 2018-05-16 05:47
The situation is beyond tragic for the innocent people being used as pawns by their own government. Let's not overlook that in 70 years and only one side has ever put forth peace proposals. Despite Camp David and Oslo, to name two plans that the Palestinians agreed to and then trashed, Hamas remains committed to the destruction of Israel and its people. They send their people into Harms Way to gain attention and saps like you take the bait. You are so quick to condemn Israel but like the Palestinians you never offer a plan for peace and even if you did Hamas would never agree to it. If you believe that Israel should be destroyed stop hiding behind innocent victims and come out and say it. You can't because that will legitimize the actions Israel is forced to take to defend its borders.
-17 # skylinefirepest 2018-05-16 11:47
I always find it amazing that people on this ultra liberal site will redmark the truth every time. Neal2k is absolutely correct and y'all have ignored his honesty to the point of calling him a liar via the redmarks. Incredible dishonesty on the part of you uberlibs!
+6 # librarian1984 2018-05-17 11:30
Let's contrast Palestinians in Gaza who rebel and are called animals and killed with impunity, with Arabs in the West Bank, who have never left off talks and cooperate with Israeli security. The latter must be treated better, right? Must be making more progress, allowed more privileges, yeah? No. Both groups are treated punitively. What future does that portend, and who is in control of it?

Far from being the only honest people in the room, you two are the ones somehow able to justify this barbarism.

+7 # Anne Frank 2018-05-17 12:12
Neal2k makes for Zionists' killing Palestinians in the current Holocaust the same arguments the Nazis made for killing Jews in the Nazi Holocaust. History repeats itself!
+14 # dascher 2018-05-16 06:41
genocide is much more apropos term than the odious "ethnic cleansing" term enthusiasticall y and unthinkingly adopted by at least the English speaking world press after its use by primarily by the Serbs and Croatians driving out masses of "others" from their villages through terror and intimidation involving mass killings, rapes, and other tools of genocide. "Ethnic Cleansing" was the innocent sounding alternative used to avoid saying "genocide". It carries the implication that the people to be exiled or eradicated are less than human vermin living in areas where they are dirtying things up - and from which they must be "cleansed".

it is high time for the use of this term to be recognized for the racist garbage that it is - a euphemism for genocide that almost makes it sound like a civic duty. The Guardian should lead the effort to have the term removed from all its articles and discussions of this kind of disgusting and despicable behavior and substitute the accurate term - "genocide" or at least "communal violence perpetrated by organized gangs of thugs supported by a government or by government authorities directly (as in Myanmar/Burma)" .
+23 # kath 2018-05-16 07:07
As long as the United States funds Israeli atrocities and supports them in the United Nations, the blood is on our hands as well. We should immediately end all Israeli aid, repeal the tax breaks that have us franking illegal Israeli settlements, make it illegal for any elected official to hold dual citizenship, and forcefully condemn the atrocities of this rogue state.
But we won't. Wish I knew why.
+7 # Anne Frank 2018-05-17 12:14
But we won't. Wish I knew why.
Rocket science this ain't. Just follow the money.
+24 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-05-16 07:39
I heard today on RT that more people have been killed at the Gaza wall or fence in the last two days than were killed at the Berlin in all its history. And yet, the Berlin wall remains as the great symbol of freedom vs tyranny in the American consciousness. Americans really don't understand the walls Israel has build surrounding Palestinianian refugee camps. In truth, Palestinians live in concentration camps and the Isreali military defends the walls with lethal force that is greater than any similar episode in human history. Still, the US celebrates Isreal as a democracy.

It is time for the US to get real about Israel. Break relations with Israel, sanction it as an outlaw state. Stop giving Israel money and weapons.
+2 # 2018-05-16 08:28
More than the Western countries the Arab countries are to be blamed for their blatant looking away from this genocide
+2 # lfeuille 2018-05-16 11:32
Yes, Saudi Arabia and the emirates actually support Israel, but as long as the US funds this genocide we share the biggest part of the blame along with Israel.
+13 # Mainiac 2018-05-16 09:07
AND… a halt to the role of the United States as the mediator in this tragedy should be done immediately. The US is not an honest broker in trying to bring about a just and fair settlement.
+11 # ouldgoat 2018-05-17 00:44
BOYCOTT! DIVEST! SANCTIONS, NOW!!! Cut off their Billion$ of aid! STOP THE GENOCIDE!!
+1 # PABLO DIABLO 2018-05-18 17:38

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